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Tonight's photo header is in honor of all the recent spacey news!

I collected a few stories from my twitter & email.  And I will continue my tradition from looking at news sites from around the world.

With a big hat tip to Chris Hayes, what story will affect us the most the next week?
You Should Know: Why What Happens In Europe Matters


Gillard signs off on millions of dollars of aid for Afghanistan

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has committed to increasing Australia's aid to Afghanistan by $85 million a year to $250 million by 2015 in an agreement signed with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai during a side meeting at the NATO summit.

"It is a very happy day for Afghanistan to consider ourselves partners with Australia, a people that has been so generous and kind to us," Mr Karzai said.

Mr Karzai paid tribute to Australian men and women in uniform for risking their lives for Afghanistan's stability and thanked Australian taxpayers.

Deadly fighting hits Hama in fresh Syria violence
At least 21 people were killed in violence across Syria on Sunday, including three children in a village in central Hama province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

At least 16 people were killed in the village of Souran in the province of Hama by shelling and gunfire from regime forces, said the Britain-based group, adding that three children were among the dead.

"There is no evidence that there were any clashes taking place in the area," before the deadly shelling took place, the Observatory said.

Five other people were killed in violence elsewhere in the country, the watchdog said, adding that anti-regime demonstrations were also held in several areas of Syria on Sunday.

It was more important to me to include this story than to exclude it because it was from a wire service.  


The riddle of the Scarborough Shoals

What's the standoff between China and the Philippines over an atoll in the South China Sea all about? Is it a matter of seafood and sovereignty ... or gas fields and gambling?

To an outside observer, the antics of China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan and Malaysia over conflicting territorial claims smack of farce auditioning for tragedy, and ridiculous claims abound.

Most notorious is the infamous Chinese nine-dash line, a scrotum-shaped outrage that extends from Hainan Island to brush the shores of Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, and encompasses almost the entire South China Sea.

Partial Parivartan
In May 2011, three states and a Union Territory elected new governments while a fifth election gave the ruling regime yet another extension. Here’s how the first year has gone for the five governments and their chief ministers

Two things have certainly changed in Junglemahal — peace is back, and what were Maoists’ strongest pockets in their West Bengal bastion have now become Trinamool Congress bases. What hasn’t changed is the absence of development.

“We last got a job under NREGA in 2009. We have got peace but we are still starving,” says Siromani Hansda of Brindabanpur village. Mohan Hansda of Brindanpur says, “For us parivartan has meant peace.” And in Burishol, where Maoist leader Kishenji was killed, Rabindranath Mahato echoes, “Violence has stopped but there still is no primary health centre. If anybody falls ill, we have to take him to the Jhargram hospital 20-30km away. There is no primary school within 5km and for higher secondary education, a student has to go to Jamboni, more than 8km away.”

Burishol, once a stronghold of Maoists and their frontal organisations, is one of the villages that have turned into Trinamool bases, as have Netai in Lalgarh, where nine villagers were gunned down by CPM cadres before the elections, and Chattradhar Mahato’s village Amlia in Lalgarh.

Internal politics from our world's most populous democracy, and second-most-populous country.  

Twitter ban lifted in Pakistan

It also sparked a good deal of soul-searching, especially among commentators, who questioned why Pakistanis could not be entrusted to decide for themselves whether or not to look at a website. Some observers noted that Pakistan had gone further than several other Muslim countries by banning Facebook, and said it showed the rise of conservative Islam in the country.
Please right-click the link for the details.  I wanted to highlight the thoughtful final paragraph.  

Europe's Failed Natural Gas Strategy: Gazprom Hopes to Build Second Baltic Sea Pipeline

With the planned Nabucco natural gas pipeline in southern Europe hitting snag after snag, Russian natural gas giant Gazprom is considering the construction of a second Baltic Sea pipeline to go with the just-finished Nord Stream. With unconventional natural gas from the US flooding the market, however, the strategy is not without risk.

Seven years later, it is now clear who won the duel. When the government of Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schröder came to an end in 2005, both he and his foreign minister, Green Party éminence grise Joschka Fischer, embarked on second careers as energy lobbyists.

Schröder is in the service of Russian energy giant Gazprom -- as chairman of the board of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline on the Baltic Sea floor. The pipeline went into operation six months ago and now natural gas from Siberia flows through the 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) of pipe to the German city of Greifswald.

Internal German politics + Energy + Fracking + Russia

South African women's gripes with 'too many rights'

National women’s campaign Amazwi Abesifazane (voices of women), which aims to give marginalised and rural women the opportunity to voice their opinion on service delivery in nationwide workshops, on Sunday launched a report in Braamfontein showing these viewpoints.

This report was the third and final report to be produced by the group and focused on the workshops held in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State in 2009.

Women throughout the country were asked to tell their stories around the theme “What democracy means to me”. The stories were analysed and submissions for various parliamentary and legislature portfolio committees were outlined in the report.

Rights concerning education, reproduction, and rights granted to children were particularly contested by the women who participated.

“What pains me as a woman is the Termination of Pregnancy Act.  I ask that it be demolished [repealed],” said Makhosazana Virgina Dube, of Uthekela in KwaZulu-Natal.

Google Earth will tell the world that Patagonia is coming out of the ashes
“The contour of the sign is ready and in a couple of weeks we should have ‘filled’ it with substance”, said Juan Carr head of the NGO.

With the reading “” (Let’s choose Patagonia) the sign which will be sighted by Google Earth is three kilometres long, 100 metres high and the writing has been displayed with 125.000 recycled plastic bottles, recalling the eruption of June last year which covered vast areas mainly of Argentina because of the prevailing winds.

“Google has confirmed it’s going to take special images of the sign. We want to attract attention from space and tell the world that tourism can return to the Patagonia region which lives off this activity and which was so punished by the ashes”, said Carr.

There were several interesting stories at Mercopress tonight.  

Do not meddle in the affairs of knitters

Getting the Inspire Mark for a project is not particularly simple and certainly not automatic. Woolsack was clear from the start that what they intended to do was “make cushions from British wool to give as welcome gifts to the Olympic and Paralympic athletes competing in the 2012 Games”. They filled in the forms, met with LOCOG, and with the Head of Olympic Villages and the person who would be Woolsack’s Village contact. The plan in April 2011 was for Woolsack to be part of the “real village atmosphere”: in the Olympic Village Plaza there would be a Woolsack stand where athletes could choose a hand-knitted cushion, gifted to them by the knitters of Britain. Woolsack confirm that arrangements for “storage, security screening, and using the daily Olympic e-newsletter to inform athletes” were thoroughly discussed at the April meeting, and on 21st July 2011, Woolsack became officially an Olympiad project.

Well. Summer 2011, LOCOG decided that the Olympic athletes couldn’t be allowed to have a stand in the Plaza with free cushions. Commercial Sponsors wouldn’t like it.

August 2011, Woolsack’s Village contact suggested she use Chefs de Mission Seminars in London to present Woolsack to the leaders of all the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and National Paralympic Committees (NPCs). Woolsack were told that about a third of all the countries were very interested and wanted their athletes to have cushions.

I was never overly fond of the Olympics.  And really disliked them after my hometown hosted the 2002 Winter Games, with all the associated scandal before, during, and after. It seems that it is all about the marketing and money.  


Event Celebrates Today's Eclipse

Event organizers were taken by surprise as a larger-than-expected crowd of residents and visitors showed up Saturday for the Solar Eclipse Extravaganza hosted at the Cedar City Aquatic Center to celebrate today's annular solar eclipse.

Dan Rodgerson, Leisure Services director for Cedar City, said he estimated that by 1 p.m. Saturday, at least 2,000 people had come to the event, which provided a number of activities free of charge in recognition of today's eclipse. He said he had expected only a couple hundred people would attend the event.

While many areas of Southern Utah are expected to have good views of today's eclipse, NASA has identified Kanarraville as the "sweet spot" for viewing the event, and more than 1.000 tourists are expected to converge on the small town today. An annular solar eclipse has not been seen in the United States since 1994.

I don't understand why Kanarraville is the "sweet spot" - this town is so out in the middle of nowhere - has no gas station, restaurants, nor public restrooms.  

Utah woman faces likely deportation after losing appeal

Kairi Shepherd was an orphan living in India when a Utah woman adopted her in 1982 — a seemingly good turn of luck for the 3-month-old, which included her obtaining legal permanent resident status in the United States.

But when she was 8, her adoptive mother died of cancer. When she was 17, she was arrested and convicted of felony check forgery to fuel a drug habit. Now 30, she is facing likely deportation after a 10th Circuit Court ruling Tuesday that upheld the federal government’s right to remove her from the country.

Judge Scott Matheson, in a 23-page decision, wrote the court simply didn’t have jurisdiction over determining Shepherd’s legal status.

Instead, Matheson denied her petition based on a series of technical procedures, including a failure to file a second appeal through the Board of Immigration Appeals as well as Shepherd’s attempt to get her petition reviewed prematurely.

Shepherd’s lawyer, Alan Smith, said he was disappointed the court didn’t tackle a "mistake" made by the federal government that allowed an immigration judge to uphold his client’s legal status after she provided a birth certificate, legal adoption papers and the argument she qualified for citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

The story is a bit stale, from May 8.  I include it here because it has a personal touch for me, because my daughter is adopted from China.  So many person made poor decisions and mistakes, and it may cause this woman her life.  And if you are brave enough to read the comments, (i consider newspaper comments the lowest lifeform on the internet), the woman featured and her family members joined in.  


One Bright Morning . . . by Crashing Vor, Dkos

Attacks on refs not putting off volunteers

10 pro events, 48 hours, LA

Weird  Police: Man stole swan eggs from nest, cooked them, in honor of ScottyUrb

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